#23 – Cate DeRosia Talks About Rethinking In-Person Events
On the podcast today we have Cate DeRosia.
Cate is a familiar face in the WordPress community. Along with her husband, Topher, they run the HeroPress Network which aims to make it easy to find any and all WordPress related content. She describes herself as a ‘serial volunteer in the community’.
In early 2022 Cate was hired by Automattic to be a sponsored member of the Community Team, and it’s this role which finds her on the podcast today.
In-person events have been largely non-existent for the last two years. Many events have moved online and tried to keep the momentum going, but for some it’s just not the same. In-person events bring something unique to the table. There’s something special about interacting face to face; sharing ideas and friendship in a way that’s virtually impossible on a screen.
A few years ago if you were attending a WordPress Meetup or WordCamp it’s likely that you didn’t think too much about your safety at the event. You showed up, enjoyed the presentations and social spaces and then went home. But now we’re all changed. Now both attendees and organisers need to make sure that events are safe, that they are following local guidelines and have thought through all the consequences of gathering many people in one space.
It’s a lot to take on, but at the same time it’s a golden opportunity to imagine afresh what a WordCamp might be.
Cate wants to make this moment count, and she needs your help, your ideas.
On the podcast we talk about her ‘blue sky thinking’ post, which is a forum for people to engage with her and her team, so that events can be made different. What does the community of 2022 want from WordPress events? Are we happy with how things have always been done, or do we want something new, something different?
Cate talks about how your opinions are being gathered and how they can shape the future of WordPress events.
[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress, the people, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, the future of in-person events.
If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice. Or by going to WP tavern.com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcast players. If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, well, I’m keen to hear from you. And hopefully get you or your idea featured on the show. Head over to WP tavern.com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox and use the contact form there.
So on the podcast today, we have Cate DeRosia. Cate is a familiar face in the WordPress community. Along with her husband Topher they run the HeroPress Network, which aims to make it easy to find any and all WordPress related content. She describes herself as a serial volunteer in the community. In early 2022, KCate was hired by Automattic to be a sponsored member of the community team. And it’s this role, which finds her on the podcast today.
In-person events have been largely non-existent for the last two years. Many events have moved online and tried to keep the momentum going. But for some, it’s just not the same. In-person events, bring something unique to the table. There’s something special about interacting, face-to-face, sharing ideas and friendship in a way that’s virtually impossible on a screen.
A few years ago, if you were attending a WordPress meetup or WordCamp, it’s likely that you didn’t think too much about your safety at the event. You showed up, enjoyed the presentations and social spaces, and then went home. But now we’re all changed. Now both attendees and organizers need to make sure that the events are safe. That they are following local guidelines and have thought through all the consequences of gathering many people in one space.
It’s a lot to take on, but at the same time, it’s a golden opportunity to imagine afresh what a WordCamp might be. Cate wants to make this moment count, and she needs your help. Your ideas. On the podcast today, we talk about her blue sky thinking post, which is a forum for people to engage with her and her team, so that events can be made different.
What does the community of 2022 want from WordPress events? Are we happy with how things have always been done or do we want something new, something different? Cate talks about how your opinions are being gathered and how they can shape the future of WordPress events.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all the links in the show notes by heading over to WP tavern.com forward slash podcast. Where you’ll also find all the other podcast episodes. And so, without further delay, I bring you Cate DeRosia.
I am joined on the podcast today by Cate DeRosia Hello Cate.
[00:03:56] Cate DeRosia: Hello, Nathan. It’s so nice to talk with you.
[00:03:58] Nathan Wrigley: And you too. Typically at the beginning of the podcast, just to give a bit of orientation we ask people to tell the listeners who they are and what their relationship is with WordPress. So I’m going to do the same thing. If you don’t mind Cate, just tell us a little bit about you and how it is that you’re appearing on a WordPress podcast.
[00:04:16] Cate DeRosia: That is a really excellent question. So I’ve been a serial volunteer in the community since about 2015. I really dove in deep there. I was transitioning away from homeschooling the girls to whatever I was going to do next with my life. My husband’s a veteran developer and had kind of made his home in WordPress.
And so it made sense for me, I have an English degree. I really love the soft side of business communications and community. And that was kind of lacking in WordPress at the time. And so I started looking around at things you could do, jobs you could have in WordPress that didn’t involve development or design.
And it was, it’s been a pretty interesting journey in kind of, invigorating for other people who have been in the community for a while and are looking for a change maybe. I’ve done a lot of freelance writing some community engagement, and then recently as of January, I was hired by Automattic to be a sponsored member of the community team.
And I couldn’t be more thrilled with that position. It really sets me up nicely to help the community. I’m also part of the Heropress project, which has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. We moved from our inspirational essays to a whole network of other services for the community, basically. So I’ve been very, very active for quite a while on the community side of WordPress.
[00:05:35] Nathan Wrigley: I think if it’s okay with you before we get into the main event of the podcast, the discussion that we’re going to have, I’d really be interested to know what the role that you’ve taken on at Automattic, what that involves. You said that it was community focused, but you able to just give us some kind of insight into the kind of thing that you are doing on a day-to-day basis to help swell and build that community?
[00:05:56] Cate DeRosia: Yeah, I’m really glad you asked because it’s a hidden job in a way. Aside from the fact that my benefits and paycheck come from Automattic, I don’t work for Automattic. I work exclusively for the WordPress community through.org. I’m on a team of eight, which actually just doubled. So at the beginning of the year, we brought on four new team members, including myself.
We handle all of the paperwork behind having an event. So all of the finances for WordCamps, every WordCamp comes through us. We vet organizers for both meetups and WordCamps. And we have these do action events, to make sure that they represent the WordPress community. That they’re somebody that you would feel comfortable having your work behind. We also then have room in our time, in our days to work on a variety of projects that are important to us. I’m currently one of the lead trio for WordCamp US, and I’m doing a lot of work in kind of reactivating our blogs, which is why we’re talking today.
I’m starting to use them more to create conversations with the community. To kind of bridge a gap that’s always been there. To help the community feel a little more, heard to give them an opportunity to share their opinions a little bit more. Others on my team are working with Jill Binder’s WP Diversity initiative, and bringing that more fully into the community.
Another one is highly active in translations and helping to get WordPress out in languages as possible. And then a fourth member of my team is excellent at documentation. And she’s been really going in and making it easier for people who want to organize an event to come on board and do that.
[00:07:30] Nathan Wrigley: That gives us a really perfect insight into why you’re talking today because the subject under discussion really is about the re-introduction of WordPress live events. Now I don’t suppose anybody needs to be told why we haven’t had live events for the last period of time. We haven’t. Several years have gone past, but it looks, at the time of recording, which is in April, 2022, it looks as if the world is settling down and considering going back to in-person events. And so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. We’re going to be talking about some of the questions Cate is posing to the community, and ways that you can help answer those questions and give Cate and her team insights into what the future of WordPress events might look like.
Just before we get into that, just wondering if you could illustrate for us what it is that you think the world has been missing over the last couple of years. We know that we did our best. We went online and probably of any community on the planet, we were able to make that pivot. We had the technology and the websites and the infrastructure, good to go. But nevertheless, after a couple of years, I think it’s fair to say that people, given the chance, many of them would prefer to go back to real world events. And I’m just wondering, perhaps we could take this in the broad sweep, any ideas that you’ve had from friends, but maybe it’s a personal story. What do you think we’ve been missing ever since in-person events got pulled?
[00:09:03] Cate DeRosia: You know, I love that question and it’s been on my mind since Topher and I had the opportunity to go to The State of the Word, in New York for HeroPress. Backing up a little bit, if there hadn’t been online events when I was getting started in WordPress, I would have had a really hard time getting started.
I was still being a full-time mom. I didn’t have a job, so I didn’t have a budget for travel. We were always a single income family, so there wasn’t extra money for anything. And so if I hadn’t been able to attend some things virtually, I wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as I did and have the start that I had.
And it’s an introvert myself, that always seemed like a good fit. You know, I liked having online events where I could just listen and learn from. But as we’ve gone through the pandemic and the real isolation that comes from being really cut off from people, you start to see how important it is to be able to see somebody’s face when you’re talking to them. A lot of trust is built in the non-verbals, and so it matters a lot to be able to sit down across from somebody and see what they’re really saying, not just the words that are coming out of their mouth.
But even beyond that, I was thinking about like, why did we go to New York? There are 50 of us that went there for the State of the Word, because I could sit at home and watch the State of the Word. I didn’t have to fly. I didn’t have to risk my health. You know, I didn’t have to do that. And I realized that it’s not the event itself, and you hear this a lot. The hallway track is the, you know, the thing everybody loves about a WordCamp. But why? And it’s because it’s a place where the other things get discussed.
When you’re sitting around a table with somebody and you’ve been there for an hour. You moved away from the conference talk completely, and have started brainstorming. You’ve started looking at your business from a different perspective. You’re thinking about community from a different perspective. There’s conversations flowing around you and you pick up these little bits and pieces that you don’t even know you’re going to use, but eventually down the road, you’re like, oh, Hey, I remember this person’s good at that thing, because I heard them talking about it over here. And it wasn’t even a conversation you were involved in and sometimes it completely revolutionizes your life. And so it’s never one thing that makes in-person events so important, but it’s like those little tiny bits and pieces of things that you can’t get unless you’re in a relaxed environment where you can just talk to each other.
[00:11:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that’s a really interesting insight because many people might think that the sessions themselves are the thing. Many people clearly talk about the hallway track and, maybe people are talking about the after party and things like that, but the whole range of different things going on, and, I’ve heard that same emotion, that same idea expressed by several people.
It’s the thousands of little, small interactions that occur in unexpected places when you’re just wandering around the corridors that seem to make great big difference. You described a minute ago that you were not in a position at the beginning of your WordPress journey to go to the real events. And so obviously you were happy with the online events. Have you had any experiences more recently where you’ve become a little bit fatigued by those?
Do you still attend them with the same alacrity that you used to, or do you find yourself perhaps not attending as much because it’s become a little bit, how should we say, a little bit tired and it’s the same thing potentially over and over again.
[00:12:35] Cate DeRosia: Yeah. So I would say that in the last two years, I have attended one online event and it wasn’t any of the ones I organized. I was online for both WordFests, through both of them. But the only WordCamp event I attended was the one where my girls played, they did some music for it.
And part of it’s because I’ve reached a spot where I do go to events purely to meet people. And it’s really a challenge online. But also you know, when you sit in front of your computer all day and then want to go to an event on a weekend that involves sitting in front of your computer, again, it doesn’t have the same change of life that going to an in-person event has. It’s just exhausting.
[00:13:25] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, good point, and I’m sure one that many people can identify with. So we’re going to change gears a little bit, and we’re going to introduce a post that Cate wrote on the 23rd of March. It’s called return to in-person events, blue sky thinking. You can find it on the make.wordpress.org channel, but for simplicity sake, just go to the post associated with this and I’ll put the link in there, and you can find it from there.
But the intention of this is you would like to offer up a brainstorming opportunity to people, so that in the future, we’ve got some fresh ideas about how WordCamps and other WordPress meetups and so on might look. And it’s kind of based on the fact that, according to people such as yourself, I know you’ve recently written a more recent posts, which again, I’ll link to in the show notes, but there’s a piece of linked in the article from Andrea Middleton, in which she emphasizes that we probably are different as a species for want of a better word. We have been changed entirely by the last couple of years. And so if that is the case and we’ve got different expectations and we’ve got different, maybe we’ve got different concerns about the kind of situations we’re willing to put ourselves in, then we need to rethink what a WordCamp might look like. We could put the old WordCamp back together, but perhaps this is a fantastic opportunity to rejig it a little bit. Have I summarize that correctly or did I miss the target or perhaps just left something out?
[00:15:01] Cate DeRosia: I am delighted to say that you got it pretty much exactly, like what we’re looking for. So the community team is made up of community organizers. And so we have our own reasons, I’m a meetup organizer, as well as part of the organizing team for WordCamp US. I know what’s keeping me from organizing WordCamps. We’re not doing a local WordCamp this year.
And our meetup hasn’t started meeting a person again, even though our community’s fairly healthy and low on COVID at the moment. So I know what my reasons are, but that’s very limiting, you know, we don’t want to operate off of just what we know. We want to open it up to hear what other people know too. The reason that I did two posts, the first one is a brainstorming post. If you’re an organizer and you have ideas on how to restart your event, or how do you know how somebody could restart their event, please put them down, even if you touch more on pain points than actual answers, we want to hear what you’re thinking and where you’re hurting.
The other post is purely for pain points and open to the entire community. Both posts have the same goal of getting more people talking about the topic. Cause we’re just, we’re so much richer together. The ideas that I have can be good ideas, but they’re still limited by my experience and my perception. Other people, and you can see from the list of answers, like there are no two answers that are the same on the posts so far. And it’s just great to see the directions people approach the question from, and the ideas that they throw out.
[00:16:25] Nathan Wrigley: This I think is the first podcast episode that I’ve done for WP Tavern where there really is an actual call to action, because I think the nature of this episode is that we’re hoping, if anybody is thinking about running an event or they have an opinion on how events should be in the future, we are encouraging you to find the link in the show notes and go to Cate’s posts and give her some feedback, because as we’ve just both said, the world has changed and we want to take this opportunity. It’s almost like phoenix from the flames kind of thing. Isn’t it? You know, we’ve got this opportunity to revitalize and build from the ground up. Whilst you were talking just then I was going through in my mind some of the friends that I have in the real world and some of the differences that I’ve noticed in them over the last two years. And it may be in the case of some people that I know that they are now less likely to leave their own home. You know, they try to do everything in a much more confined way. They leave and try to achieve four things in one outing from the house, as opposed to one outing.
I have other friends who are just desperate everything, to return to normal and be able to throw all of the, all of the restrictions and everything over their shoulder and leave this whole thing behind. And there are other people who may be somewhere in the middle, you know, they’ve got a cautionary approach and some things they want to be mindful of and other things not.
And so it’s with that opinion that we’re going into this, and you’ve got three goals. It would be silly if I said what they were, maybe it’s best if I hand that to you.
[00:17:52] Cate DeRosia: Yeah we want the meetup organizers to feel supported, because we all know that even though we’re coming out of COVID, I’m exhausted. I mean I’ve been trying to keep a family safe. Running a business and all the other things that happen, you know, we’re all tired if nothing else. And so meetup organizers are, to ask them to do one more thing, we’re looking to ease that as best we can. But like you said, the people that we’re trying to help, they’re different. They’re reasonably scared. They’re nervous about being back out around people. Maybe they’ve got particular health reasons that make it more challenging. So we need to be supporting the organizers as well as the attendees.
And hopefully through brainstorming with the community, which is the third point, we can come up with some new and creative ways to make this easier for everybody. But if we don’t like, if the organizers don’t feel supported and the attendees don’t feel safe, then nobody’s going to come back together again.
[00:18:47] Nathan Wrigley: The purpose of this is that you want ideas and let’s go through a few of the different ideas that we’ve had so far. The ideas are being shared in the form of comments at the bottom of the posts in a sort of typical WordPress fashion. Do you just want to go through a few of the pieces that you’ve picked up on that were quite interesting?
And the idea here is I guess to illustrate that, as you said, none of them are the same. Everybody seems to have a different expectation of what they would like to change. And some of them were really curious to me as I read through them. I genuinely thought that never would have occurred to me. So let’s just share, go through a few of those.
[00:19:25] Cate DeRosia: Sure. Yeah. You know, we’ve been talking more and more about diversity in the community and well, that doesn’t necessarily fit, it may not have been something we had on our mind when this post came out. Hearing other people talk about how adding diversity options to our meetups can help people feel more safe and comfortable, that definitely is right on topic. And so it wasn’t a direction we expected anybody to come from, but we’re really happy to get that feedback from them. Another post talks about reusing talks that have happened at other WordCamps or at other meetups.
Our meetup is small here in Grand Rapids, and we started before the pandemic bringing in virtual speakers because that, not that we didn’t have speakers who were willing, but it was kind of always the same people feeling like they had to speak. And so to bring more diversity, more variety to our topics, we started bringing in the virtual speakers and you can do that over prerecorded talk from somebody else or from a different WordCamp. And so those are the kinds of ideas, like looking at content that we already have, that we can reuse. I’m talking about, what resources can we provide if they can make this easier for them.
[00:20:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, you mentioned diversity. Somebody mentioned the idea that maybe going forwards, it would be a good idea to not have a single individual in charge of any event no matter how small or large it might be. The idea of teaming up with people, that speaks very much to the, you know, you’ve said earlier that you were exhausted off the back of this, maybe spreading that load slightly.
I don’t know how don’t know how easy that is I’m not entirely sure what the sense of wishing to be an organizer is these days. I don’t know if the desire to organize these kinds of events has gone down because of the pandemic or there’s more people trying to get involved in there, but I do also like the idea of the one that you just shared in terms of people reusing content.
That just strikes me as such a sensible idea. If somebody over in on Australian meetup has created a piece of content and it’s already there and it’s perfectly usable. In fact, it might be utterly brilliant. Why not just repurpose it and have it say in Birmingham or Manchester or Los Angeles or wherever it might be. And in that way, we can share that content rather than it being viewed by the 40 people who showed up to that event on that particular date and time. That’s a really powerful one I think.
[00:21:43] Cate DeRosia: Yeah, exactly. The initial one you shared goes back to something that you mentioned earlier, but we’re really looking at rethinking how meetups are structured. And in reality, I think it’s more of a communicating with the community about how meetups are intended to be structured.
They aren’t necessarily supposed to have a single organizer. They’ve kind of fallen into, I don’t want to say a rut, but kind of a pattern of you have a meetup and it has a speaker and you know, and that’s what that month is like. When in reality any person in the meetup can organize an event that can just be coffee or coworking. And so we have plans in the works to start reminding people that there are other alternatives to what a meetup can look like or who can organize an event. And we’re hoping that will help with growing co-organizers, which is another response on the post as well.
And then also move into the idea of repurposing content or like using some of the new Learn content that’s been coming out, that’s structured nicely for meetups, but just getting some new ideas on what a meetup needs to look like.
[00:22:46] Nathan Wrigley: There seems to be a concern in some of them, although it’s not explicitly stated, it’s kind of implied in a few of the comments that you’ve got, that there’s concern around the size of the audience and the size of the pool of people who are going to be willing to do events in the future.
And I just wonder, do you have concerns about that? Do you have concerns that in the future, these events are going to reopen only to find that less people are getting there. If that’s the case, and that is something we need to worry about because people have got into the habit of not attending, or maybe they’re just new to the community over the last couple of years, and they simply don’t know that these things ever existed. And if that’s the case, how do we find them? How do we tell them that these events are going on? And there’s a, there’s a few answers to that in there as well.
[00:23:32] Cate DeRosia: That’s a great point. That’s a great kind of side effect to come out of the post, is seeing what those additional concerns are. You know, maybe it’s not as focused around content for their meetup, but how do you get people involved? And so those are areas that we can continue to address as well.
I think it’s important to remember that it’s not a contest. If you’ve got three people who have gathered to learn, then that’s two people that didn’t gather before. And it doesn’t have to be big to be successful. Growing a community can start in a lot of little ways that you know, if you’re helping the people that want to be helped, that’s what matters most.
But also starting to look at what our community looks like because as more people go online with their jobs as they look at career transitions and now is a huge time for career transitions. You’ve got younger people coming in, but you’ve also got older people coming in. My parents’ generation who are retiring, but have computer skills and are excited about starting their next business or, you know, their third business. It’s important to think about your community, the makeup of it in different ways.
[00:24:37] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that was another one that came out which I found quite curious. This idea that it would be a good opportunity to attract age groups at the end of the spectrum at both ends. So a great opportunity to reach out to new people who probably don’t really know too much about these WordPress events. Maybe they’re students and they’re fresh out of college.
And this would be a great moment to get them involved. And maybe not only will they become part of the community, but they might wish to take on some of the responsibility for organizing events like this, but also, and this really hadn’t occurred to me, forgive my ignorance here, the older end of the spectrum, the idea that there’s probably a lot of people out there who would welcome an event as friendly and as interesting as a WordCamp and tapping into that resource as well.
[00:25:25] Cate DeRosia: Yeah, one of the problems that we had specifically in our meetup is we were all kind of the same age, and Topher and I of course had children kind of early for nowadays. But as our friends were starting to have their children, it gets hard to balance family and meetup and job, and all the other responsibilities that you have. So having a meetup group that is made up of a variety of different ages and life points, or, you know, places where you are in your life, can be really useful to you because you do have those people who are young and enthusiastic or are established and, and reliable, or, you know, young and reliable established, and enthusiastic. However you want to look at it.
The whole community benefits from having people who are at different stages of their life. I know for me, I’ve actually had more experience meeting people and maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older, but meeting people who are on their second stage journey and are embracing WordPress for all that it has to offer. They have a little more disposable income. They have a little more life experience, and they’re often excited to be starting something new.
[00:26:31] Nathan Wrigley: I guess it was obvious that some people were going to put comments in about COVID itself and the restrictions around that, and that’s going to be a big concern for people in terms of, what will the restrictions be? What will the regulations be? Masking perhaps, and so on.
And somebody mentioned, and I hadn’t come across this idea, but they mentioned that this is happening in other real world events that people are wearing what we in the UK called badges, but I believe you called buttons, a little visual emblem to show some sort of status in terms of what you would like people, how you would like people’s behavior to be toward you, perhaps social distancing. You’re wearing a yellow or an orange badge or something, and that, the implication of that is I need to be kept away from, I would like that to be a distance between me and other people. I found that really interesting as well, ways to assuage people’s fear about COVID. So anything like that, they could get in touch with you and say as well?
[00:27:26] Cate DeRosia: Yeah, absolutely. And something we’re looking at, particularly as we go into WordCamp US. From a personal level, I love this idea. Whether it’s during a pandemic or just any regular event. I grew up Midwestern here in the U S and hugging was never not an option, like, you just hugged everybody.
Like that’s what you did. And so it’s actually been kind of a revelation for me that you don’t have to hug everybody. And kind of freeing kind of strange to say at 45. Not everybody likes to be touched the same way. Not everybody wants to seem interaction. And so to be more, yes, it’s coming out of the pandemic, but I think it’s a good thing to come out of the pandemic where we can, just like we’re embracing people’s pronouns, we can embrace their space restrictions as well.
[00:28:11] Nathan Wrigley: We had a podcast episode several weeks ago with some people off the WordCamp Europe team. And they had gone to great lengths. We didn’t really get into the subject of how they had arrived at the decisions, which is basically what we’re talking about today. We’re providing, or you are Cate providing a, how we can do things in the future.
That was more of an explanation of just what is happening at WordCamp Europe. And that didn’t come up in our conversation, but it was pretty clear that they’d gone to great lengths to figure out how they could make it as safe as possible. So masks at all times, testing available and all the eating and the dining and all of that. The socializing is going to be outside and it’s happens to be in Portugal, so the weather is going to be fairly predictable and reliable. So that’s kind of good.
But the fact is all of this needed to be thought about, and we can inject more thoughts if we come along and contribute to your post. You called it blue sky thinking are you really going for that? Is it literally just throw any idea at us and let’s see? Obviously there’s constraints about being ridiculous or possibly, you know, rude or what have you but, you’re just after anything. Give us any ideas, let’s see. Maybe there’s a gem in there. There’s a needle in a haystack that we hadn’t thought about.
[00:29:27] Cate DeRosia: Yeah. You know, that’s exactly it. So yes, it’s a blue sky thinking. Can we act and actually implement every idea that comes across from the post? No, we can’t do that. We can’t give everybody a safety bubble that they can wear at each camp. That would be super fun, but it’s not going to happen.
We can’t make it perfect for everybody, but you never know what part of an idea might come out of a suggestion that was made that seemed completely farfetched. That is actually revolutionary, and it changes how we all operate. So we don’t want to put limits on people. You have to be friendly. You have to be polite to the people around you, but beyond that, we really want to hear your ideas. If you think that it would be useful to a meetup or a WordCamp organizer, let us hear about it because, who knows?
[00:30:12] Nathan Wrigley: Coincidentally. Maybe it wasn’t. So coincidentally, I don’t know. But similar time, Josepha Hayen Chomphosy, who’s the executive director of the WordPress project. She put out a podcast episode on her WP Briefing podcast. Again, I’ll link to that in the show notes, where she illustrated that there are now some mandatory guidelines, Anybody wanting to organize an event over 50 people, basically it can be the local guidelines. If there’s any extra guidelines on top of the WordPress guidelines, you’ve got to follow all of those. And in some cases it might be that you may need to do testing.
And in which case, if you’re doing testing, you have to make sure that there’s boots on the ground and staff available to make that happen. There’s a little bit more to it than that. It’s a little bit more complicated, but I just wondered if, in the future, you had any thoughts on whether these events are going to be more complicated to organize.
And so whilst we’ve got the blue sky thinking on the one hand, on the other hand, we have the difficult reality that we have to actually manage this stuff and not everything can be lovely. Some of it is going to be a slog. Some of it’s going to be difficult to implement. And in some cases it might be disappointing because you may get to the point where you are days away from having an event and the guidelines change locally, you have to pull it.
So I guess we’ve got to be just a bit mindful haven’t we? Over on the one side, it’s all roses and the sun is shining and then possibly on the other hand, there is a slightly more gloomy side that we probably should talk about briefly.
[00:31:47] Cate DeRosia: Yeah. I think it’s really important. I mean, this happened to WordCamp Birmingham and our restrictions don’t match their local restrictions. And it’s been a challenge for them. They haven’t been able to restart planning their WordCamp until the current WordPress COVID guidelines change.
And it’s something that is in talks. You know, we know that it will be flexible in that they will change again in the future. But we’re also being cautious. When you have a huge global community with people who range from incredibly healthy to potentially invalids at home, you have to really measure what inclusivity looks like and try to hit kind of a middle point where people feel reasonably safe, organizers feel reasonably supported, but it also realistically fits what a group can manage.
And it’s a very difficult balance to try to find. One of the, one of our biggest concerns and one reasons that we’ve erred on the side of being a little more conservative, a little bit more strict with our guidelines is we don’t ever want an organizer to feel responsible for the health of their community.
Like we’re trying to take that burden kind of on ourselves so that when an organizer acts they’re acting because that’s what WordCamp Central told them to do. Any errors on the side of a healthier community instead of a together community.
[00:33:11] Nathan Wrigley: You mentioned at the start that you obviously want everybody to get involved in your post. And again, once again, I’ll just illustrate that the post is available at the make dot wordpress dot org site. And once again, I’ll say that the links are in the show notes. More broadly if somebody has listened to this and just thought, oh boy, I really quite like to get involved in some of these events.
Do you have any pointers, any guidance for people? Where would be their first port of call if they wish to involved in a local meetup or a more global meetup. Where would you point people?
[00:33:48] Cate DeRosia: Sure. If you’re looking to get involved, you can go to meetup.com and search for WordPress, and you’ll find all of the ones that are in your area. You can also find all of the ones and most of them still have a virtual element, so you can get involved in meetups across the world, which is kind of a really great thing that came out of the pandemic, is a huge opportunity for, you know, all of those barriers to go away and to really grow the global community.
It did make it a little more challenging, to grow the local communities, but the global ones are easier. If you’re looking to actually organize, you can head over to wordpress.org and there are a variety of handbooks. You can search for, you know, meetup organizer or a WordCamp organizer, and look through the handbook and see what’s just involved in organizing these different events.
[00:34:33] Nathan Wrigley: Cate on a personal level, what’s the best way that people could communicate with you, should they have listened to this and think, actually I want to go straight to Cate. That could be email or Twitter or whatever you feel most comfortable with.
[00:34:45] Cate DeRosia: I’m on Twitter, at my sweet Cate and that’s Cate with a C because it is. So you can also find me on Twitter at my sweet Cate. I am on LinkedIn. I rarely Facebook, so that’s really not a good place to find me. If you want to send me an email, Cate at HeroPress dot com is a good one.
And I’m always really happy to hear from the community. You know, if you’ve got a question, I always try to answer it because there’s nothing like trying to find information and having somebody just ghost you.
[00:35:11] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that this podcast episode has managed to get people to go and offer some blue sky thoughts. It will be open for the next few days. I’m not a hundred percent sure exactly how many days between the date this podcast goes out and when you’re going to be really gathering up those comments and examining them, but they’ll certainly be a period of time after this podcast comes out.
So let’s hope that this podcast prompts a few people to wander over there and give you their comments. Okay Cate, thank you so much for talking to me today on the podcast.
[00:35:40] Cate DeRosia: Hey, thanks, Nathan. I really appreciate you giving us a platform to talk about this, to help get people feeling more comfortable and safe and heard. Cause they really matter to us.
[00:35:50] Nathan Wrigley: You are most welcome. Thank you.